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The Department of Mad Scientists: How DARPA Is Remaking Our World, from the Internet to Artificial Limbs Paperback – November 2, 2010
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“A fascinating introduction to a veritable pantheon of geek gods who quietly shaped the face of modern technology.” (Daniel H. Wilson, roboticist and author of How to Survive a Robot Uprising)
“An entertaining and information rich account of a small, efficient government agency that often turned 20th century sci-fi into 21st century technical reality. Belfiore will inspire young readers of a scientific bent to flood DARPA with their resumes.” (Robert Wallace, author of SPYCRAFT: The Secret History of the CIA's Spytechs from Communism to al-Qaeda)
“An inspiring book about a crucial government agency (DARPA) with a driving spirit to do the impossible and to do it fast. We all need to read this book.” (John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist of Xerox and Director of its Palo Alto ResearchCenter (PARC) John Seely Brown, Former Chief Scientist of Xerox and Director of its Palo Alto ResearchCenter (PARC))
[DARPA’s] history has never been told at the level of detail and with such mastery as in this book by Michael Belfiore (Leonard Kleinrock, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science, UCLA, and Internet pioneer)
“An expansive look at one of the most important agencies not only in the Department of Defense, but in American history.” (Nathan Hughes, Military Analyst, STRATFOR)
PRAISE FOR ROCKETEERS:“Belfiore excels at painting the world of NewSpace.” (New Scientist)
“A riveting, you-are-there account of how this ragtag collection of innovative thinkers, brave pilots, and bold visionaries is--right now--launching one of the most exciting new industries in history. Belfiore’s eloquent writing and exhaustive reporting really bring this mysterious, secretive world to life.” (Popular Science)
“That this story is still unfolding makes it especially exciting to read. These men are still in their workshops, tinkering their way into orbit.” (Forbes)
“The commerical space race is heating up so fast you need a cheat sheet to keep track of all the billionaires and gamblers vying to be the first private entrepreneur to blast paying customers into orbit. [Belfiore] does a stellar job introducing an intriguing cast of characters.” (Wired)
“The privitization of space travel is an essential step toward realizing our cosmic destiny. In his engaging, highly readable ROCKETEERS, Michael Belfiore tells the fascinating story of the entrepreneurs who have already made it happen.” (Buzz Aldrin)
From the Back Cover
America's greatest idea factory isn't Bell Labs, Silicon Valley, or MIT's Media Lab. It's the secretive, Pentagon-led agency known as DARPA. Founded by Eisenhower in response to Sputnik and the Soviet space program, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) mixes military officers with sneaker-wearing scientists, seeking paradigm-shifting ideas in varied fields—from energy, robotics, and rockets to doctorless operating rooms, driverless cars, and planes that can fly halfway around the world in just a few hours.
Michael Belfiore was given unpre-cedented access to write this first-ever popular account of DARPA. The Department of Mad Scientists contains material that has barely been reported in the general media—in fact, only 2 percent of Americans know much of anything about the agency. But as this fascinating read demonstrates, DARPA isn't so much frightening as it is inspiring—it is our future.
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More About the Author
Michael has been excited about space travel and future technology since he discovered Robert Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo in his local public library at the age of six. In addition to writing books, he reports on what's next for major magazines and on his blog at www.michaelbelfiore.com and speaks to audiences around North America.
He lives in New York state's Hudson River Valley with his wife and two daughters.
Top Customer Reviews
Second, it is clear that Belfiore gained considerable knowledge about rockets from his previous book. He is more comfortable in writing about this area of DARPA rather than about the game-changing world of computers and artificial intelligence or the larger DARPA agenda. He frankly admits his lack of understanding and seems willing to let that lack of knowledge ride in exchange for defaulting to the personalities working in these arenas.
He points out that much of his information comes from DARPA contractors who aren't veiled in the same "secrecy" or opaqueness of DARPA itself. Yet he has not taken the time to explore the breadth of this contracted research but limits himself more to the historic, the visible and his personal zone of comfort.
What Belfiore hits by accident and dismisses in order to retain his narrow focus is that while DARPA is "edgy" it is only the tip of a very large iceberg of military research by each of the various branches, some of which are of a similar nature to what DARPA is doing. One would think, from this book, that DARPA represents where the defense industry's research and development's edge is today.
It's not sufficiently technologically detailed, and does not significantly clarify what is currently going on behind the closed doors. It is more a personal tale of travel through the corridors of history and personalities than the essence of what makes DARPA a force on the frontiers of research today and for the future. It should find itself abridged in Readers Digest.
DARPA didn't originally have that "Defense" D in front of it (that came in 1972). ARPA was born from the shock that came from the 1957 launch of Sputnik. ARPANET was originally a network of a small number of computers at universities and research labs which had to share data about seismograph readings quickly, and electronic transfer was much faster than sending tracings in the mail.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was an interesting and rare look at DARPA, the governmental arm where research leads to new discoveries. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Troy Blackford
The book provides a good description of DARPA and what it does. It's certainly non-technical, and more details can be found on DARPA's web site and DARPA's 50th anniversary book. Read morePublished 23 months ago by ThomasW
Michael Belfiore brings an open, inquiring mind to his subjects, and he respects his readers. This is an excellent combination, especially for such a chaotic, weird and exciting... Read morePublished on February 3, 2014 by JAW
Informative, interesting, with lots of interviews of the people involved, this book is a great read if you want an in-depth overview of DARPA and many of the wide-ranging projects... Read morePublished on October 3, 2013 by <3 Amazon
Just got around to reading, and found the first half very informative. While Mr. Belfiore focuses on DARPA personalities, he provides enough technical details keep interest. Read morePublished on January 17, 2013 by J. Scott Shipman
I really enjoyed this behind-the-scenes view of DARPA. I first heard about the agency when the book was reviewed on NPR, and have enjoyed reading about it. Read morePublished on November 27, 2012 by D. Knight
A fascinating read about a government agency that actually is a lean, mean machine. Though I already knew about ARPANET, it was exciting to read about all the DARPA-funded... Read morePublished on November 10, 2011 by J. Hopkins